Preakness 2012 Expert Picks: What Pundits Are Saying About Top Contenders
With Bodemeister and I'll Have Another dominating the dialogue as the Preakness looms on the horizon, it's hard to remember there are still nine other horses making a run at Pimlico.
But are there really any other horses worth wagering on? The Preakness seems like a race tailored for Bodemeister, a sprinter with blazing speed who would've won the Kentucky Derby if it were one furlong shorter.
And if he can't win at Pimlico, it seems that the horse who beat him at Churchill Downs will have the best shot. He's not as fast out of the gate as Bodemeister, but he specializes in the kind of late runs that allowed him to come out of nowhere and beat the favorite two weeks ago.
Here's a look at what the experts are thinking with one day remaining until I'll Have Another makes his bid for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports
Forde lost a bit of money after the Derby, when I'll Have Another scored the upset victory over his pick, Bodemeister. But that's not stopping him from picking Bob Baffert's prize horse for the Preakness.
Speaking to WHAS 11 after the Derby, Forde said, "[Bodemeister] ran what I thought was an unbelievable race. To run as fast as he did early, setting the pace, for him to hold up that well—usually when horses are doing that well that early, they crack badly in the stretch."
He also believes that the "speed-favoring" Pimlico track is perfect for a horse like Bodemeister, given its tighter turns, and he thinks it'll be tight between the same two horses that blew away the rest of the competition at Churchill Downs.
Forde is right—Bodemeister was made for a Preakness win. I'll Have Another clearly had a leg up on him on the longer Derby track, but this one is all Bodemeister's.
Andy Beyer, The Washington Post
Beyer counts himself a member of Team Bodemeister as well. Despite the fact that I'll Have Another emerged victorious at Churchill Downs, he—and countless others—believe Bodemeister's run was more impressive because it was up to him to set such a fast pace.
Beyer says that the top contenders are the horses who already ran at Churchill Downs and managed to compete. He believes that among them, Bodemeister should be the runaway winner at Pimlico, with Creative Cause coming in second and I'll Have another in third.
Though he does think Bodemeister's performance could be hurt by the fatigue that comes with stuffing his entire racing career into a five-month span, he believes the colt will get an early lead at the Preakness—and this time, he'll hold on to it.
Beyer writes on DRF.com:
[Bodemeister] didn’t have the luxury of slowing down to a moderate pace as he did when he captured the Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths. If he had been able to set a slower pace, or if I’ll Have Another had encountered some adversity, Bodemeister would have won. Run the Kentucky Derby 100 times in an alternate universe, and he’ll capture a plurality of them.
Joe Drape, The New York Times
Here's something new: Drape's pick is the fourth-place finisher from the Derby, Went the Day Well. Trained by Graham Motion, he currently has 6-1 odds of winning.
But coming off a loss to Bodemeister and I'll Have Another two weeks ago, does he really have the speed to overcome the pace that will doubtlessly be set by Baffert's horse? It's a risky pick, but Drape is a believer. He picks Creative Cause to finish second and Bodemeister to finish third. Not on the board? This year's Derby winner.
Went the Day Well fell behind early at Churchill Downs and didn't have the speed to catch up to the front-runners. Perhaps if he gets off to a better start this time—which he might, from post position No. 5—he has a chance.
Gene Menez, SI.com
Like the others, Menez concentrates primarily on all the horses who've already shown their stuff at Churchill Downs, but he sticks with the safe pick in Bodemeister.
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He emphasizes the fact that what Bodemeister did in the Derby was truly remarkable—setting such an unbelievable pace and then maintaining enough speed to finish second. It's amazing that Bodemeister managed to stay that far ahead of the pack for so long and then finish the race near the top. On a shorter track, he'll likely be able to do the same thing—but win this time.
Like Beyer, however, Menez is cautious based on the fact that this is the colt's third start in the last five weeks. Bob Baffert's track record is enough to convince him, though. After Baffert's Lookin at Lucky finished sixth in the Derby in 2010, he came right back and won the Preakness.
Bodemeister is likely to benefit from the fact that there's not a ton of speed in this field. Even if he doesn't set as fast a pace as he did at Churchill Downs, he still should be able to keep the competition at bay.
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